In the form of a $500m investment, Toyota has agreed to work with Uber on improving safety and cutting transportation costs in the autonomous vehicle market.
The announcement tightens an existing partnership: Toyota had previously made a “small investment” in Uber with plans to help create a car-leasing program for potential Uber drivers.
A whole lotta back scratchin’ going on
Toyota, a traditional car company, had a “late” start in the autonomous game and has been looking to put the pedal to the metal to catch up with competitors. Uber, the world’s rideshare leader, seems to be what the doc ordered.
On the flip, Toyota’s recent cash infusion provides a much-needed endorsement for the hobbled Uber self-driving division.
After sinking $750m into R&D, one of the company’s vehicles was involved in a fatal crash in Arizona this year — an incident that led to the firing of 400 employees, a self-driving test hiatus, and a shuttered testing facility.
Now they’re getting Siennas…
The Wall Street Journal reports the companies said Uber will integrate Autonomous Toyota Sienna minivans into its ride-hailing network, adding that the vehicles could be owned and operated by third-party fleet managers in the future.
The investment values Uber at around $72B, up slightly from where SoftBank valued the rideshare titan earlier this year with its funding.
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